Hollande moves to reassure French Jews on Auschwitz anniversary

The French president with a group of Auschwitz survivors and youths, Paris, 27 Jan.
The French president with a group of Auschwitz survivors and youths, Paris, 27 Jan. Reuters/Martin Bureau/Pool

President François Hollande declared to French Jews on Tuesday that “France is your homeland”, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.



Hollande was speaking in front of the Shoah Memorial in Paris, just over two weeks after 4 people were killed in an attack on a Jewish supermarket a few kilometres away.

Meanwhile new figures released on Tuesday show the number of anti-Semitic acts doubled in France in 2014, according to the CRIF, the umbrella organisation which officially represents French Jews.

The organisation said some 851 anti-Semitic acts were registered in 2014, compared with 423 the previous year, with acts of physical violence jumping from 105 to 241.

“These anti-Semitic acts represent 51 per cent of racist acts committed in France, while Jews make up only one per cent of the population,” said the CRIF in a statement.

France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish population, estimated to be between 500,000 and 600,000, as well as the continent’s largest Muslim population, estimated at around 5 million.
In demonstrations over the conflict in Gaza last summer, violent anti-Jewish obscenities were heard on the streets of Paris and some Jewish businesses were destroyed in Sarcelles, just outside the capital, where there is a sizeable Jewish community.
Recent figures show a record number of Jewish people are choosing to leave France and settle in Israel or elsewhere, citing anti-Semitism and the economic downturn as reasons for their departure.

Before making his speech, the French president joined a group of youngsters listening to holocaust survivors tell their stories.

The French president then announced that by the end of February the government will present a new plan to tackle racism and anti-Semitism.

The plan will include security provisions, a new emphasis on teaching about the holocaust, and measures to stop the propagation of hate speech and racist or anti-Semitic ideologies on internet.

This afternoon Hollande is to join other world leaders at a gathering in Auschwitz where 1.1 million mainly European Jews, 76,000 of them French, perished.

In all, the Nazis killed 6 million of pre-war Europe’s 11 million Jews, as well as large numbers of homosexuals, gypsies and political opponents.


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